Coloma Community Schools' bond proposal rejected by voters

NOW: Coloma Community Schools’ bond proposal rejected by voters

COLOMA, Mich. -- "Well, obviously, disappontment," said Coloma Community School Superintendent Dave Ehlers, reflecting on Tuesday night's election results, where the latest bond proposal was voted down.

The $28 million bond would have made crucial infrastructure updates to the district, from upgrading classrooms built decades ago -- "Windows, floors, ceilings, lights, cabinetry -- the whole nine yards," said Ehler -- to tearing down the old high school and gym, built back in the 1920s, which has become too costly to maintain.

"We need to build something in its place -- so we have devised a rec-center/gym to put over there that the community would have access to as well," Ehlers said.

But the community saw differently, and by a margin of just 102 votes, the proposal was voted down.

Barbara Dickert, who has a granddaughter who will attend Coloma Community Schools, was disheartened by the vote.

"Very disappointed," said Dickert. "Very disappointed, because it affects the children and it affects the community. It's very sad because they're the future generations that are going to suffer from this."

It's something of a trend lately in Southwest Michigan.

Last year, Edwardsburg Public Schools had a nearly $60 million bond that failed to pass.

This week, Coloma and three other school districts with similar bonds were also rejected.

Only Lakeshore Public School's bond proposal survived -- by only 88 votes.

"The economy is tough," said Ehlers. "Interest rates are climbing, everyone talks about the r-word nobody wants to mention, the recession that's coming. People are paying more at the grocery store. We have a lot of people in our community that are on fixed incomes, you know, retirees. Every penny does matter and when you ask them to part with that money, it's gotta be for a good reason, and maybe this wasn't a good reason for some of them."

He added the school board will now go back to the drawing board to figure out what they will have to bring to the voters that will get their support, because the work will need to be done eventually.

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